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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  June 30, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: good evening. i'm gwen ifill. high waves and gusting winds from hurricane alex hampered cleanup efforts in the gulf today, forcing oil-skimming ships back to shore. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the "newshour" tonight: the churning surf also pushed more oil onto gulf coast beaches. we get an update on the growing storm. >> ifill: then, we have a newsmaker interview with richard holbrooke, the u.s.
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special representative for afghanistan and pakistan about the firing of general stanley mcchrystal and about the war. >> brown: kwame holman takes us through day three of the confirmation hearing for supreme court nominee elena kagan and judy woodruff gets analysis from marcia coyle of the "national law journal." >> ifill: tom bearden reports from florida on scientists going deep underwater to explore the damage caused by the gushing oil well. >> the whole idea about oil impacting known delicate ecosystems is really a new one. toxicity studies done in the lab do not come close to replicating the impact this might have. >> brown: and poet benjamin saenz talks of living and writing amid the violence of the u.s./mexico border. >> this is the place that really defines me, because it is such a difficult terrain to negotiate. it's not a comfortable place to live and if you want to be a writer, you don't want to live in a comfortable place. >> ifill: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour."
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hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: the first hurricane of the atlantic season bore down today on the texas/mexico border region. it was far from the scene of the huge oil spill in the gulf of mexico, but it still disrupted containment and cleanup efforts. hurricane alex whipped up waves today from tampico, mexico-- 200 miles south of the border-- all the way up to port isabel, texas and beyond. >> most of the island is evacuated now. >> brown: as the center of the storm approached, business owners stocked up on plywood,
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making ready for heavy rain and winds blowing 80 miles an hour. the worst effects were expected on the mexican side, as the hurricane heads inland over the next 24 hours. but the sheer reach of alex extended hundreds of miles north and east, toward the site of the oil spill. six-foot waves and winds of 25 miles an hour pushed more tarballs and patches of oil ashore from the mississippi delta to florida, overwhelming protective booms and cleanup crews. >> it's definitely the last thing we want to have to deal with. >> brown: the rough weather also forced oil-skimming vessels and protective barges to retreat to port. without those tools, national guard helicopters dropped in sandbags in a further effort to shield louisiana's coastline. in washington, coast guard admiral thad allen warned the storm could drive oil deeper into sensitive wetlands. >> well, we fully expect that if there's a two or three storm
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surge we could see oil moving further inland or into the marshes where we hadn't experienced that before, we have skimming task forces standing by ready to be deployed as soon as the weather abates, and we will be out there hitting it hard. >> brown: at the same time, coast guard officials said heavy waves are helping to break up some of the oil out in the gulf. the storm did not affect the operation capturing oil at the wellhead, 50 miles offshore. but it did delay the arrival of another ship to help increase the amount collected. in the meantime, a new plan was in the works to save sea turtles endangered by the oil. it involved moving 70,000 eggs to florida's atlantic coast. for now, though, the focus was on how the year's first hurricane has set back efforts to battle the spill, and the fear that more storms are still to come. and we get more now, from james franklin, chief hurricane forecaster at the national hurricane center in miami. and ivor van heerdin, formerly at l.s.u., he's now a senior scientist at polaris applied
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sciences, an oil spill mapping and response company. james franklin, what's the latest on the hurricane? where is it hitting and with what force? ( no audio ) >> brown: in terms of its potential impact on the area of the oil spill, how far are those waves reaching or expected to reach? >> well, the effects have been there already for a couple of days, and in fact i think we'll see over the next hours and days or so that the effects will begin to diminish. the peak effects have already occurred. >> brown: and what were those effects? >> well, there were waves six to seven to eight-feet range. there were southeasterly flow of 20-25 miles per hour that
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persisted for several days. the southeast flow will continue for a little while longer. zeal the onshore flow even after alex moves inland. >> brown: what about the weathering impact of those waves? what happens as those waves get to the oil spill area? >> any waves from the hurricane will accelerate the weathering process. now, alex was very far away from the oil spill and it didn't have nearly the effect or contribution to the weathering process that it would have had had it been much closer. so i don't expect much of an impact in terms of that apekt of things sdploun i was just told our audience did not hear your first answer. we were having audio technical problems. the first question i put to you was the situation with the hurricane. where is it hitting and with what force? >> okay. alex is a category one hurricane. it's about three or four hours offshore of the coast of northeastern mexico. it is showing signs of strepg we expect it to be a category two hurricane by the
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time it reaches the coastline in just a few hours. >> brown: let me bring in mr. van heerden. what is the impact of the waves and the so-called weathering from the storm? it has a popotential benefit and also some adverse impact on the oil spill, correct? >> that's correct. last sunday, i witnessed the oil coming ashore on the sandoval islands, and what we saw at that time gentle waves in the surfs. the big paddies and stringers were breaking up fairly readily into the smaller paddies and tarballs. soy would suspect we've got seven- to eight-foot waves out there that we will be break up some of the larger paddies and some of the stringers into smaller particles, and the smaller they are , the more rapidly they break down with
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microbial activity and so on. the other fear we have is higher water levels in the bay s that would allow oil to penetrate into the interior mar s -- marshes. so far we've had very limited oiling of marshes and that's only been along the fringes. but the data i was looking at just before i came here showed tides about a foot to a foot and a half above normal, and that may not be enough to float the oil into the backmarsh. so we can just hope and pray and certainly in a couple of day we will be back on the ground surveying the results of the storm. >> brown: well, how does that change for now what is happening on the-- onland in terms of cleaning up or preventing more oil from coming? >> well, a lot of boom systems, especially absorbant boom is not very strong in terms of resisting current and waves. so we is
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-- have had problems with booms breaking up and being washed on to beaches and marshes. again, one of the things we've seen over the last few weeks is that this oil breaks down very, very readily, especially if it's exposed to waves and tides. and that's whether it's on rocks on the beach, in the mangroves or in the marsh. so we're going to be interested to see if some of the areas that were previously oild get cleaned through the higher wave energy that's now in the bay. so this storm could have both negative impacts and positive impacts , and we'll have to wait and see . certainly, it is driving the oil ashore in greater quantities than wave seep in the last few weeks. >> brown: let me bring mr. franklin back. alex is said to be the earliest
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hurricane to hit the u.s. mainland since 1995, i understand. does that help us think about this coming season, what might be coming? >> well, it probably won't go down as a strike on the u.s. mainland, but it is unusual to get a tropical cyclone in june formed from a tropical wave, which is how alex formed. normally that mechanism doesn't get going until we get into late july and august. i think it is an indicator that we're seeing conditions conducive for development over a lot of tropical atlantic. we were expecting a busy season before the season started. we're still expecting a busy season. >> brown: mr. van heerden, that season is coming. that means everybody there must need to adjust. >> yes, and , you know, we all are hoping that they get this well capped as quickly as possible , and that we can get to the actual final cleanup phase and try and put this whole
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tragedy behind us. >> brown: all right ivor van heerden and james franklin, thank you both very much. >> you're welcome. >> ifill: tomorrow, ray suarez moderates an exclusive "newshour"/google/youtube conversation with b.p. executive bob dudley. find out how you can submit your questions by visiting our web site, newshour.pbs.org, or you tube's citizen tube page. you'll be able to watch live online on our web site and on you tube at 3:30 p.m. eastern time. and we'll air excerpts on tomorrow's "newshour." >> brown: still to come on the "newshour": ambassador holbrooke on mcchrystal and afghanistan; elena kagan's third and final day of testimony; the oil spill's impact far below the surface and a poet who lives on the u.s./mexico border. but first, with the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: the u.s. house moved today to approve a compromise bill, reforming financial regulation. it would be the most sweeping rewrite since the great depression. but democrats and republicans were divided on whether the bill
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would prevent another financial meltdown or simply burden the public. >> the purpose of the wall street accountability bill is very clear. never again should the american taxpayer be asked to foot the bill for bad bets made on wall street. never again should millions of americans have to lose their jobs because of reckless conduct on wall street. and never again will we allow the american economy to be held hostage to bad decisions on wall street and in the financial sector. >> it will involve more taxes, fees, in fact, it's $18 billion worth of new spending through these fees and taxes. in addition to making bailouts permanent which this bill does do, failing to address the root cause of the crisis and rewarding failed regulators, this democratic solution makes it even more difficult for consumers to access credit and for businesses to comply with over-burdensome regulations.
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>> sreenivasan: democrats were still working to get the 60 votes needed to advance the bill in the senate. in a bid to gather the final votes, negotiators deleted a $19 billion fee on large banks and hedge funds from the legislation. a former top executive at american international group today defended his actions, leading to the company's near collapse in 2008. joseph cassano ran a.i.g.'s division that sold billions of dollars in credit default swaps. he told a bipartisan commission that he never diluted underwriting standards just to generate more business. the insurance giant ultimately received $180 billion in taxpayer funds. wall street took another hit, after a major payroll firm issued a disappointing report on jobs. the dow jones industrial average lost 96 points to close at 9,774. the nasdaq fell nearly 26 points to close at 2,109. the u.s. senate has confirmed general david petraeus as the new commander for u.s. and nato forces in afghanistan. the vote today was unanimous. senators from both sides of the aisle had nothing but praise for
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the four-star general. >> david petraeus has proved that he say winner , and we need to give him every opportunity and remove every obstacle so that he can can help the united states and our allies win in afghanistan. >> we can be certain that when confirmed, he will bring highly experienced leadership and a profound understanding of the president's strategy in afghanistan , which he helped shape as commander of the u.s. central command. >> sreenivasan: petraeus was a key architect of american strategy in iraq and afghanistan. he replaces general stanley mcchrystal, who was fired for criticizing civilian leaders in the obama administration. also today, nato reported another american soldier killed in afghanistan. that made 59 u.s. deaths this month. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: the administration's war strategy has come under sustained new scrutiny in the week since the president fired his top general.
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one of the top officials in charge of that strategy joins us now-- ambassador richard holbrooke, the special envoy to afghanistan and pakistan. welcome. welcome back. you're just back. >> yes. >> ifill: we have heard in the last week, especially, new questions raised about this, the whole strategy in afghanistan. and i wanted to ask you about something in particular, one of your administration's chief critics has said about this, that's lindsey graham the senator from north carolina. he said this is a dysfunctional relationship that's happening now among all the top leaders. what do you say to him? >> you're talking about--. >> ifill: talk about in the wake of mcchrystal's firing-- >> you're talking about in the afghan government? >> ifill: in our government, managing the afghan war. >> well, i have great respect for lindsey graham. i've worked closely with him, and as you know, he serves every year in afghanistan, but i really don't know where he's coming from on this. i've worked in every democratic administration since the kennedy administration, and
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i know dysfunctionality when i see it. we have really good civilian military relations in this government. my counter-part, until yesterday was david petraeus, when he got confirmed for another job. we have the clofs relationship we've ever had with a senior military official and i'm proud to have worked so closely with him, and i think we're now sending our top military command tort most difficult area. as far as u.s. relations in washington go, i've worked in everyity raise of white house state relationships and defense relationships over the last 40 years. this is one which is absent of any ideological differences, as occurred in the last administration, and several i served in. we worked closely together. there are always personal differences and ambitions, but this is just not true. it's not a dysfunctional relationship. >> ifill: the personal differences which people have focused on involve you and
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ambassador eikenberry and general mcchrystal-- he is now gone. general petraeus , as you pointed out, a good working relationship. >> i also had a very good relationship with general mcchrystal whom i saw on the day before he left kabul and who went out of his way to apologize to me personally. in fact he woke me in the middle of the night to apologize. >> ifill: were you surprised his staff said those things? >> i was appalled that they said those things, but i don't take it personally. these things happen. the decisions that were made by president obama were important decisions . they reaffirmed one of the most sacred principles in american life-- civilian control of the military-- and they held up the most important principle, which he mentioned repeatedly in his campaign-- accountability. and he then sent in the outstanding senior military officer i've ever worked with, and i've known them all back to general westmoreland in vietnam. so i'm very pleased with where we're.
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now, let me just finish. >> ifill: certainly >> press then created a narrative out of an isolated incident, and the narrative was the one you just mentioned. and, honestly, it just isn't true. we work very closely together. twice already in the last four days, general petraeus, ambassador eikenberry, myself , and doug lou, the national security council senior director the four of us had secure phone conversations of the sort we hadn't had previously to work on implementation . and it's interesting, the very first issue that was raised and the very first call, which was on saturday, raised by david petraeus was electricity for kandahar as part of the kandahar operation. now, that's an issue we've been working on for a long time. >> ifill: and it's part of this overall counter-insurgency strategy? >> it's a central, central issue
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for the campaign in kandahar, to get electricity to the people as part of our overall counter-insurgency. but the point i want to make is david petraeus raised it, ambassador eikenberry immediately said he supported what general pretrace was proposing, and since i'd already been working on, i them-- as soon as the call was over-- i called the head of a.i.d. and the deputy secretary state jack loo we're working on it to accelerate an ongoing process. tomorrow morning we will have an international secure television conference on kandahar electricity. this is not dysfunctionality. i know what disfunctionality is when i see it. i've been there. >> ifill: i bet you do. but let me ask you about another set of relationships, and that's with karzai. >> he is the legitimately elected president of the country. it was a messy election, as the president said, but it's long in
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the past. secretary clinton went to kabul i went with her-- on november 19 for his inauguration. he made certain commitments. he went to london and repeated them. yesterday he signed one of the key announcements-- reintegration, which opens up the door from the taliban coming into from the cold. an international trust fund is going to be set up. i've been working directly with the japanese who are leading this effort, and the japanese, by the way, don't get enough credit for what they're doing in afghanistan. and throughout all of this, we're working closely with president car as a. i met with president karzai eight times this year, in london munich, in washington, in kabul, and in these meetings, we have covered all these issues . now, let's not try to personify the country in one person. he also has a very good team of ministers around him. we spent a lot of time with his
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minister for finance, his minister for reintegration , his minister for agriculture. this is a very tough situation in afghanistan. no one denies that. the important thing to underscore is that it's not a government of one person. and the government doesn't control the whole country. and the-- and the bench strength is limited. we are lacking enough good, qualified afghans. and the afghan government is working on that. >> ifill: a year from now, july 2011, there has been some -- no small debate in washington about whether that is a deadline for the beginning to withdraw and it's sending the wrong signal to our allies on the ground there. from the ground, how are they responding to this idea of even a soft target in july 2011? >> let's be very clear in what the president said and what our policy is. american and other international combat troops
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, some will start withdrawing in july of next year. the size and pace and scope to be determined by the president after the review which will take place at the end of this year. >> ifill: so it is conditions based already, is what you're saying? >> everyone said that, and i don't need to repeat what the president and the two secretaries of defense and state and others have said and david petraeus--. >> ifill: perhaps you do, because there still seems to be some other misunderstanding. >> i have to be honest with you, if it's a misunderstanding it may be because the issue has not been correctly represented in the media. for example--. >> ifill: or by senator john mccain or senator lindsey graham or any number of people on capitol hill. >> you're talking about people i greatly respect, but they can speak for themselves. our position is extremely clear. as the troops draw down , the afghan security forces will replace them. so-- and, furthermore, as the president and secretary clinton
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have said repeatedly, economic and development assistance will and must continue. we are not going to repeat the abandonment of afghanistan that took place in 1989 and which left the country , after the soviet withdrawal, in a state of collapse , which led to the warlords which led to the taliban which led to 9/11. we cannot afford that. the american public understands the direct connection between our presence in afghanistan and our efforts in pakistan on one hand, and our national security on the other. >> ifill: i do want to ask you about pakistan. in pakistan, where you've also spent some time, you mentioned this question about relationships with the taliban. these things are all integrated, and you're the integrating guy. how do you figure that you can negotiate some sort ofa agreement-- is that what you're going to do with the taliban? are you going to do that with cooperation from pakistan or is that something that's separate? >> i'm not going to negotiate an agreement with the taliban. president karzai has said
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that he wishes to have reconciliation programs. he's talked about it. president obama has announced that we support afghan-led reconciliation. in my talks in islamabad and kabul last week , i put heavy stress on this issue. in recent weeks and months, almost unnoticed by the american media, there's been an increasing intensity of direct contacts between the governments of pakistan and the governments of afghanistan. they haven't come to any final conclusion. some of the reporting has been quite wild this. but the bottom line is that there's a more of a dialogue, encouraged by us. the u.s. is working closely with president karzai, and the pakistanis understand what we're doing. i'm not here to say that something very dramatic and secret is going on. but it's out there in plain view. it just hasn't been reported. general kai, in
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i went to kabul. barely mentioned in the western press. president karzai went to new delhi, beijing, and washington and tokyo. these contacts are significantly narrowing the gap , the historic gap which is over 60 years old, between afghanistan and pakistan. please remember-- and your viewers-- please remember that on the day pakistan was-- declared independence, afghanistan opposed its entry into the u.n. in 1947. they have a disputed border. they are a pashtan ethnic group. there are massive historical issues here and president obama has sought to help the two work together for the simplest of reasons-- if they work together, there's mutual benefit for them and for the rest of the world because that is the area of the world , that border area, where the great threat to our national
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security, homeland security, that of our european allies, and indkra all lie. the last few months have seen a real dialogue, encouraged by but not guided by the u.s. that's what we do. that's what i think should have been years and years ago, and that's the policy i'm part of. >> ifill: ambassador richard holbrooke, special envoy to afghanistan and pakistan, thank you so much for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> brown: now: day three of elena kagan's appearance before the senate committee charged with her nomination to the supreme court. once again, congressional correspondent kwame holman reports. >> reporter: as the questioning of elena kagan wound down, it appeared the nominee had emerged largely unscathed. the chairman of the judiciary committee-- vermont democrat patrick leahy-- summed it up. >> solicitor general kagan will be confirmed. >> reporter: indeed, kagan managed to sidestep republican challenges on key issues, and democratic invitations to criticize the current court. that, despite pleas from senators on both sides, such as
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republican jeff sessions of alabama to be more expansive on her views. >> some of the critics who are saying, "who is this nominee? exactly what do you believe?" might find it from the... from the testimony difficult to know if... if, ms. kagan, whether you'd be more like john roberts and more like ruth bader ginsburg. so i think we need to know a little bit more what we can expect of you as a judge. >> reporter: rhode island democrat sheldon whitehouse tried to get at that point, asking about high-profile split decisions, driven by conservative justices. >> i want to ask you what you think about all these five to four decisions and what effort the court should make to return to a collegial environment that the court, where even these highly contentious decisions, like "brown versus board of education" and "roe versus wade" are driven either by unanimous or massive majorities of the
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court rather than the slenderest possible majority and to try to reach across the partisan divide on the court so it's not just republican appointees acting together. >> senator whitehouse, it's a hard question you pose, because on the... on the one hand, every judge, every justice has to do what he or she thinks is right on the law. you wouldn't want the judicial process to become in any way a bargaining process or a logrolling process. >> but by definition, if the court were to reach beyond the group of five that has driven so many of these recent decisions, they would be less able to move the law as dramatically as they have. that's just obvious, is it not?
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>> senator, what has... i want to make it clear that i'm not agreeing to your characterizations of the current court. i think that that would be inappropriate for me to do, and... >> i understand that. >> and i'm sure that everybody up there is acting in good faith. >> reporter: but democrats' criticism of the current court was a theme that persisted. delaware's ted kaufman singled out this year's decision that wiped away limits on corporate and labor union spending in campaigns for president and congress. >> i mean, we have these issues, like results-oriented judging, precedent, stare decisis, where everybody seems... everybody on the committee seems to agree. it's kind of remarkable how when we look at individual cases they aren't taken into account. and i'm not going to ask you to comment on that. >> reporter: and along those same lines, minnesota democrat al franken sought kagan's views on giving deference to congress. >> general kagan, we spend a lot of time in hearings and on the floor debating legislation. how much weight do you think a judge should give to the deliberations of congress and
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the reasons why we passed a law in the first place? >> well, senator franken, the most important thing in interpreting any statute-- in fact, the only thing that matters in interpreting any statute-- is congress's intent. congress gets to make the laws, under article i of the constitution. and what the court should be doing in applying those laws is trying to figure out what congress meant and how congress wanted the laws to be applied. and that is the only thing that the court should be doing. >> reporter: the long first- round of questioning finally wrapped up in the late morning. and then, it began again, with each senator having a second go at the nominee. when his term came again, utah republican orrin hatch returned to the campaign finance case -- known as "citizens united." >> of the cases usually cited in democratic critiques of the court this is the only one in which the court actually struck down an act of congress.
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it did so for a simple reason: the law passed by congress violated fundamental law, the first amendment of the united states of america. >> reporter: republican lindsey graham of south carolina noted that both conservatives and liberals complain about judicial activism. >> an activist judge is something none of us like, apparently. nobody on that side likes it, nobody on our side likes it. help me find one. >> i'm sorry? >> help me find one. can you think of anyone in history of the united states that was an activist judge? because we don't like these people. it seems to be that an activist judge rules the way we don't like. it's getting to be no more sophisticated than that and i'd like it to be more sophisticated than that. so what is your definition of activist judge? >> well, senator graham, i think my definition is somebody who doesn't take three principles to heart.
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the first principle is deference to the political branches in making the policy decisions of this nation, because that who ought to making the policy decisions of this nation. the second principle is respect for precedent, precedent as a doctrine of constraint and humility and also stability in the law. and the third principle is deciding cases narrowly, deciding them one at a time, deciding them on narrow grounds if one can, avoiding constitutional questions if one can. in the end, kagan, like other recent high-court nominees, left some senators wanting much more. pennsylvania democrat arlen specter suggested lawmakers may some day have to threaten to block a nomination.
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>> it would be my hope to find some place between voting no and having some sort of substantive answers, but i don't know that it would be useful to pursue these questions any further. >> the committee hopes to finish the nomination this week but it will have to work around funeral plans for the late senator robert byrd. >> ifill: judy woodruff has been anchoring our gavel to gavel coverage of the hearings today. she joins us now from capitol hill. judy? >> woodruff: thanks, gwen. and i am joined by marcia coyle. we have been together the last three days covering these hearings. mash afirst of all, given the unsuccessful efforts to both sides of the aisle to get elena kagan to talk-- to describe the court, to talk about the justices, to talk about controversial issue, what have we learned about her today? >> well, judy, i think we learned some about her judicial philosophy. she talked about how she would
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interpret statutes of congress , for example. she said if text is clear, then the text provides the answer to the question before the court. but if it isn't clear, then there are other tools that help the court decide. and she mentioned specifically, because she was asked, about legislative history. as you know, judy, legislative history is something that justice scalia has no patience for, and he's even mocked it from the bench, but she thinks it's a valid tool. and she also talked about how she would interpret the constitution. she refused to be pin-holed on whether she would only rely on original intent of the founders, something that justices scalia and thomas often rely upon in interpreting the constitution. she said there's really no one way to look at it. she mentioned the decision by the court two years ago on the second amendment case where all the nine justices looked at original intent, and they came up with conflicting views. so she said you have to take
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case by case. you have to look at it pragmatically, and you apply the constitution. she did not accept that there was such a thing as a living constitution, which has also caused considerable controversy among the public and in congress. she said that the constitution doesn't change , but the kinds of situations to which it applies, that changes, and as the constitution is applied to new situations, constitutional law develops. so i think we learned a little bit about how she would approach judging. we also learned, she said as many nominees have said in recent years, that she looks at court decisions, such as the recent second amendment case this week and the death penalty as settled law. and that satisfies some, doesn't satisfy others
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on the judiciary committee because just about every nominee stands by court press departments, and as movie them complained during the hearings, the justices then turn around and in in certain cases will overturn precedent. >> woodruff: she was also very critical of what she would call-- i guess one senator asked about results-oriented judging. so, marcia, when we hear the ranging republican on the committee, senator jeff session, say-- he said at the end of the hearings today we don't know if you're closer to ruth bader ginsberg or chief justice john roberts. did she truly leave it that wide open? >> i don't think she did, judy. i think at one point when she was being asked about her beliefs, she didn't want to give personal opinions because, quite rightly, she said you set those aside when you judge, but she said to learn about her look at her life in the law. she has worked in two democratic
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administrations. and you can take something away from that. and i believe she did say at one point that her views are progressive, which i would understand -- and i guess many people would understand-- that she is a liberal, and i'm sure that everyone on the senate judiciary committee knows that. so i don't think it is as wide open as that she would be another john roberts. >> woodruff: marcia, wean because she has not been a judge before, there wasn't a body of opinions for the senators to look at, but they certainly did look at her record as dean of harvard law school-- we heard a lot about the military recrueltiment issue there. we heard a lot about memos she wrote when she was an aide in the clinton white house. why would you say the republicans were not more able to turn those-- and other things that she's done-- into negatives? >> well, judy, i don't think there was just a whole lot for them to latch on to. we heard an awful lot from the republicans about the recruiting of military
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at harvard law school and the law school's nondiscrimination policy. and i think senator sessions and senator graham came closest to actually questioning her honesty when she said that she was trying to juggle the solman amendment, which required equal access for military recruiting at the law school, and the law school's nondiscrimination policy . they felt that she was making a political statement when she did not allow the military to use the office of career services at the law school. so at that point, it's just who do you believe? the other things they had to look at, for example, they questioned memos she wrote when she was a law clerk. this was back when she was in her early 20s and was clerking for justice marshall. for a time there, it almost seemed as if justice marshall
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was before the committee being renominated for the supreme court because she was being held in a sense, they tried it say she was as activist as they believed he was. but you don'tue don't go far when you have the kind of support that the white house marshaled for her. when she was questioned about her clerkship with justice marshall, senator leahy, after the questioning was ended, was able to come right back with the fact that 29 law clerks who served with her at that time, who served for justices of different political persuasions, all supported her nomination and all echoed her comment that as a clerk, she channeled her justice's views. that's what they did, too. it's just hard. there was a lot of support when she was questioned about what she did as solicitor general, what she did in the white house
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. senator leahy would come back time and again with letters from conservatives and republicans who held those positions who had support. so i think the republicans went into this not having a lot of material like cases to work with and just focused on what they thought might be some of her more vulnerable points. >> woodruff: very quickly, marcia, i guess there's not much doubt she'll be confirmed. the chairman of the committee is predicting that. even republicans on the committee are saying she'll be confirmed. but very quickly, this democratic frustration we saw today with the current court. sum up for us what that is about and how it relates to her. >> going into the hearings, i think it was pretty clear that the democratic senators wanted to make the hearings about the roberts court. they've been very frustrated -- actually, i think it starts with the rehnquist court. they've been frustrated by
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rulings, particularly the recent citizens united campaign finance ruling that struck down part of the campaign finance reform law. they've been frustrated when the court strikes down laws such as the violence against womens's act, the brady background gun check act. they feel that the curt ignores congressional findings , and it is the roberts court in particular that they feel is the conservatives on the roberts court who they believe have been very activist , particularly recently. >> woodruff: marcia coyle, the marshall law journal, thank you for today and your work over the past three days. >> it's been fun. >> woodruff: it has. >> thanks, judy. >> brown: now, back to the gulf for a look at how scientists are tracking the oil spill's impact. the government announced today it's working with university labs to deploy advanced sensor technology to study what's happening in the water.
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one of those centers is based in st. petersburg, florida. newshour correspondent tom bearden reports on the work of researchers there. >> reporter: the "weather bird ii" may not be the biggest research vessel afloat, but scientists from the university of south florida have been using it to answer some of the deepest mysteries resulting from the deepwater horizon oil spill. it's in port in st. petersburg this week getting ready for another voyage to figure out what's happening to the oil, the fish, the whole gulf ecosystem. when at sea, the ship deploys a variety of ocean monitoring devices and sensors. one of them looks a bit like a cruise missile, but without an engine, it's a programmable underwater glider. each one costs more than $100,000 dollars. >> we have five gliders. we have four of them that are depth rated for 200 meters and we have one that is depth rated for a thousand meters. they are equipped with a sensor suite that give us capacity to measure temperature and salinity
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with depth. we can also measure various one of the key sensors on here is what they call sedom sensor, color dissolved organic matter, it can be used to measure the presence of hydrocarbons. >> reporter: since the well blew out, there have been a lot of pictures of the surface oil affecting the marshes, the beaches, and the birds. but there's also been a lot of debate and discussion about the oil that people cannot see. oil is lighter than water, and one would expect it to rise to the surface. but in this spill, some of it is staying underwater. chemical oceanographer dr. david hollander says when the warm, highly pressurized oil emerges into the near freezing water, a remarkable transformation takes place. >> all combines and makes it a fire hose shooting out very, very fine particles atomizing molecules into very, very fine droplets, which will then re- coagulate and re-coalesce to form larger components are
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a portion of those micro droplets are entrained in the currents and are transformed away and we think those are a part of that subsurface petroleum. >> reporter: the "weatherbird ii" has tracked the underwater particles up to 40 miles from the well head, but scientists don't yet understand much about why they behave the way they do. >> are these isolated layers that have no connection? is there sort of a stair step between these layers? what is the difference in the chemistry of these layers? that is the information we will try to try to discover on the weatherbird that is going out in the middle ojuly. >> reporter: dr. ernst peebles, the principal investigator on an earlier cruise, says these so called plumes are more like clouds than a concentrated river of oil beneath the surface. >> plumes in general make people think of a volcano or an active spewing mass of black oil. in fact, what we found was
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layers of microscopic droplets of oil. >> reporter: things you can't see to the naked eye? >> that is right, they are much smaller than things you can see with the naked eye. we had optic instruments on board that detected these droplets readily. they had no problem saying that there was oil in this clear water. >> reporter: if it is clear and you can't see it what is the risk? >> toxic properties. it can create a lot of direct contact type of toxicity. there is a type of hydrocarbon dissolved. >> reporter: both peebles and hollander are worried about what will happen when very small organisms ingest these microscopic tarballs, and how the entire deep water food chain might be impacted by extended exposure to the oil. >> some of these continental shelf areas are home to very important marine protected areas
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as well as some of the nursery grounds to laval fish, and some of the fishing grounds to the important recreational fish stock. the impact might not occur this year, it might occur four year life cycles from now. >> reporter: another big question these scientists are investigating is where the spill might go. dr. robert weisberg has worked with other scientists and government agencies to put together a series of computer models to track the oil. >> if we can model how the water moves as accurately as possible, then we can model how the oil moves as accurately as possible. >> reporter: one of the things weisberg is studying is the loop current-- the way the water flows from the yucatan peninsula in mexico, east through the florida strait, and then up the atlantic coast. frequently that current spawns an eddy. a sort of slowly rotating whirlpool. weisberg says in the past the eddy current has gone as far west as the well site. if it does so again, it could push a considerable amount of
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oil through the strait, into the gulf stream and then up the east coast. >> it is hard to predict, in fact it is impossible to predict how the loop current and the eddy will behave over the short term. and it is hard to predict what the winds will do too far out. that is why it is important to update these models on a daily basis and see what happens and >> reporter: weisberg and other university scientists have undertaken a lot of this research on their own initiative, and weisberg is frustrated that it's not better coordinated. >> other people have been getting satellite images that we do not have access to. there are ships at sea there are there are aircraft overflights a lot of these things.
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someone within unified command would have put these things together in a nice data set so that someone like me or anyone could use them. that has not happened. >> reporter: despite the lack of coordination, scientists say much remains to be studied. >> in the future, we hope to be looking at the ecological effects of the spill. the whole idea about oil impacting known delicate ecosystems is really a new one. toxicity studies done in the lab do not come close to replicating the impact this might have. we have to start looking at this from the ground up. >> reporter: 14 scientists will board the "weatherbird ii" in a few weeks and embark on another trip into the gulf to gather more data on how the entire ecosystem is reacting to the oil.
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>> ifill: finally, another in our series on poets and poetry. tonight: benjamin saenz. he lives on and writes about a part of the u.s. mexico border beset by violent crime in recent years. saenz has authored numerous books of fiction and poetry, his latest collection is called "the book of what remains." >> my name is benjamin alire saenz. i live on the juarez/el paso border on the u.s. side. i'm a latino writer, poet, artist. and i actually like to identify myself these days as a frontierliso. someone who lives on the border. this is the place that really defines me. because it is such a difficult terrain to negotiate because there are no sense of
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certainties. the fixed ideas of one's identity, of one's natural boundaries the way one uses words that come from all sides. and sometimes they come even by bullets. it's not a comfortable place to live and if you want to be a writer, you don't want to live in a comfortable place. meditation on living in the desert #11 "i am looking at a book of photographs. the photographs document the exodus of mexicans crossing the desert. i am staring at the face of a woman who is more a girl than a woman. she is handing her documents to a government official. i know and you know and we all know that the documents are forged. the official is not in the photograph. only the frightened eyes of a girl." i think the reason i started writing these odes to juarez is that i feel a profound
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connection to that city and to the people of juarez. juarez used to be a place where you could go and have a drink, it used to be a playground, if you will. now it's become this dangerous place which is the opposite of a playground. murder happens with impunity. there is no institutional system of justice working. and to me that is not only terrifying but profoundly sad. so some people leave, some people have to stay, some people still come back and forth, some people try to live as normal a life as they can, as they're able. so some people do move if they have the means. wealthy people can move in where they want.
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wealthy people are welcome anywhere in the world, which then we have to say that borders are really to keep out the poor. ode to juarez #5 this is where we live "the old man sits. there is nothing to do but remember. he is too old to work, too healthy to die, too rich to starve, too poor to leave the city. he hears a rumor: el cartel de sinaloa has defeated el cartel de juarez. if the war is over then why is there still killing? we will be dead and buried before the killing stops. the killing will go on for an eternity. killing-- our new addiction, our new cocaine. people are leaving. the old man and his wife, elena, will stay. this is where they were born, where they have always lived. the words they used to speak are
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disappearing. it hurts too much to talk. sometimes it hurts too much to breathe. sometimes, it hurts too much to wake. there is no other place but here. there is no place to go. they have to stay. and wait. but wait for what?" >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: hurricane alex closed on the texas/mexico border region, and disrupted efforts to contain the gulf oil spill. the u.s. house moved to approve the compromise bill reforming financial regulations. the "newshour" is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our
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newsroom, previews what's there. hari? >> sreenivasan: you can watch benjamin saenz read from his work on our "poetry series" page. on the oil spill, learn more about the work of deep sea scientists profiled in tom's piece. on the kagan confirmation, find today's liveblog from our partners at scotusblog-- a look back at our coverage of the court over the years and a guide to some of the staffers behind the senators. and a reminder: send your questions for ray to pose to b.p. executive bob dudley tomorrow. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm gwen ifill. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you on-line. and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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>> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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